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Wayne County orders masks in schools, day care facilities

August 27, 2021 GMT

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Wayne County, Michigan’s most populated, is requiring masks inside schools.

The county’s health officer issued a COVID-19 order Friday mandating face coverings for preK-12 students, teachers and staff. The measure also applies to day care facilities, with exceptions for kids under 4.

Wayne, which is home to nearly 18% of Michigan residents, is the seventh county to implement some type of school mask requirement. School districts in 76 other counties vary on whether masking is optional or mandatory.

The order notes that kids under 12 cannot be vaccinated and many ages 12 and older have not gotten a shot. It says proper masking and other mitigation strategies were “extremely effective” in preventing transmission in schools last academic year.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer strongly recommends face coverings in schools but has stopped short of reinstating a statewide requirement through the state health department. Her office said with Wayne County’s move, 54% of students in traditional public schools are subject to mask mandates.

“Districts and local public health leaders should keep working together to implement mask guidelines and create buy-in at the community level, which leads to better outcomes and better adherence to policies that keep kids, teachers, staff and parents safe,” the Democratic governor said in a statement.

Michigan recorded almost 4,000 new coronavirus cases over two days and 69 deaths, including 42 older deaths from a records review. The number of adults hospitalized with confirmed infections continued to rise, to 1,115, a nearly five-fold increase from six weeks ago. Hospitalizations remain well below the April peak. The seven-day case rate was lower than in all but four states.

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Follow David Eggert at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00